For about 58 minutes on Sunday afternoon, the San Antonio Brahmas were on top of the world. They had a 12-point lead over the St. Louis Battlehawks with around two minutes left in the game. The Brahmas were moving the ball well, and their defensive line was getting to Battlehawks quarterback AJ McCarron.
And then it just all fell apart. McCarron started rolling, rifling off a string of 10 straight completions at one point. The Brahmas defense had no answer as McCarron threw two touchdowns in those final minutes to propel an 18-15 comeback victory.
The loss will certainly sting, especially given the energy of the 24,000+ crowd in attendance. San Antonio will have to figure things out before their trip to Orlando to play the Guardians this coming Sunday night.
While the collapse is certainly a negative worth talking about, there were some positives to take away from the performance as well. We’ll focus on those in this piece, as we highlight the three stars of the week for the San Antonio Brahmas.
Third Star: Kicker Parker Romo
Parker Romo accounted for nine of the Brahmas’ 15 points on Sunday. He went 3/4 in field goal attempts, making kicks from 29, 43, and 48 yards out. The miss certainly stands out given how the game ended, but he kicked fairly well all things considered.
Romo scored the first points in Brahmas history with a little less than three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. He put the team back in front after the Battlehawks tied the game at 3. In the fourth, Romo’s kick extended the lead to 15-3 after Fred Brown’s touchdown.
The missed field goal is certainly a kick you want to have back. Especially since the kick was missed from 34 yards out. However, Romo put in a good performance all told, and he is a huge reason the Brahmas had points to begin with.
Second Star: Wide Receiver Landen Akers
Fred Brown scored the team’s only touchdown of the game, and he certainly deserves plaudits for that. But Landen Akers was the team’s most relied-on receiver, and he delivered.
As a receiver, his stats weren’t eye-opening. He had seven catches for 35 yards in the loss on Sunday. However, he was targeted seven times, meaning every time the ball went his way, he caught it.
Furthermore, Akers handled punt returns for the most part. He had four returns on the day, gaining 31 yards in the process. Throw in the one rushing yard he recorded, and he had 67 yards in total.
While guys such as Brown and Jalen Tolliver had big players, Akers set himself apart by creating the yardage for himself. Most of his plays were screens where he had to make a few defenders miss to gain his yardage. And he did it wonderfully.
So while he didn’t have a highlight catch or a touchdown to his name, Akers was the guy the team relied on the most. And he rewarded their trust with a nice performance.
First Star: Running Back Kalen Ballage
Beyond Akers, there was one player Brahmas offensive coordinator Jaime Elizondo trusted more than anyone. Running back Kalen Ballage got his first shot at XFL action, and if it’s any indication, he may be one of the best backs in the league.
The Brahmas wanted to run the ball down the throat of the Battlehawks defense on Sunday. And Ballage did just that, racking up 84 yards on 24 attempts. The 27-year-old looked the part of an NFL running back during XFL Week 1.
The former Dolphins running back also featured a bit in the pass game. Ballage caught three passes on four targets for 31 yards, bringing his total yards from scrimmage to 115.
The Battlehawks defensive front was impressive on Sunday, but Ballage kept churning through it all. He helped the Brahmas move the ball down the field and put them in positions to score. If he continues this form in the weeks ahead, a NFL is certainly in his future.
Featured Photo Credit: Alonso Ramirez III/XFL
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